The US is home to more than 11 million undocumented workers, and there are an estimated 2 million migrants working in New York. They are taxi drivers, domestic workers, restaurant, retail and construction staff. They are paid far less than the city’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour,and they are often mistreated by their employers.
Their lives may undergo major changes if the US House of Representatives approves an immigration bill, passed by the Senate last month, which offers a 13-year path to citizenship for undocumented migrants, but also reinforces border security and enables businesses to check workers’ social security numbers, under the E-verify program.
The program would make “every single undocumented person one click away from being notified or deported”, according to Monami Maulik, executive director of Desis Rising Up and Moving (Drum), an organization of low-wage south Asian immigrants in Jackson Heights, Queens, which has 2,000 members.
“Our members … and many others in immigrant communities are really disappointed with this legislation. It’s turning out to be more and more repressive, harsher measures,” she said. “So we are following it very closely.”
After Latinos, she added, south Asians are among the second-largest undocumented population in New York.